X-day is here! It’s time for a showdown between Azalea and Eiko as the two battle it out for 100,000 likes. Azalea’s manager Kurosawa opts for the cowardly route in the form of paying people to bring about the likes. He designs a contest wherein Azalea will hold a secret concert and then reveal a QR code. The code will allow 100 random people that click on it to receive 1 million yen!
Kongming uses Azalea’s money against them and after some harsh shade thrown by Kabe, it all culminates in what should be a heartfelt competition for the populace’s affections.
I actually had to watch this episode twice to try to understand how the hell Kongming pulled off the stunt he did. Throughout the show’s run, I’ve been fully on board with the practically telepathic prediction ability Kongming possesses. Here at the end I hate to be a nitpicker but this episode stretched me a touch too far. I like the stratagem of “borrowing what you do not possess” and I enjoyed the anecdote with the arrows that pertained to it. I honestly was hoping that here, in this one instance where they are backed into a corner by a behemoth of a company, Kongming and Eiko would have had to sweat it more. Disguising themselves as Azalea to snipe likes was indeed a neat idea, but I needed a more solid reason as to how Kongming could have made all this work out. There’s just too much hand-waving here.
First, what the hell, let’s just throw out the Kongming can predict the weather. Without the fog that occluded Eiko and company, there’s little chance they would have been able to fool the crowd. Sure whatever, I’ll buy into this.
Second, how in the double hell did Eiko’s team afford this bitchin stage-truck? Is there a secret fund Kongming has been amassing that allowed for such a thing? Damn we’ve come a long way from being put in the back venue of the ArtsFest, haven’t we? It seemed a little much that they were able to conjure this much equipment.
Third, how in the triple hell did Kongming predict the exact location of the secret concert? I feel like this should have given Azalea the edge. At first I thought maybe the concert was scheduled elsewhere and Kongming lured Azalea to Shibuya 109 with his ruse. Upon rewatching…nope, he somehow knew that out of all the places in Shibuya, THIS SPOT was where everything was going to happen. Now…I pulled a Brendan and went back to Episode 07 for research. Kongming gives Eiko a Public Road Usage form for the Shibuya Scramble near Hachiko. Shibuya 109 is a super popular fashion store on the scramble. Metaphorically it’s pure poetry that Eiko and Nanami have to duke it out in the place that they sang acoustic street music together and forged a beautiful friendship. Predictability wise though…I guess Kongming could have known the largest crowd possible would require the Shibuya Scramble, but stiiiillll. It would have been nice for there to have been some detective work to confirm this even if Kongming had a hunch.
I’ll end with the pieces I did love about this episode. The first is that I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention we get a new song. It’s a “mass produced by the enemy” one but I appreciated us getting away from that singular Maria Diesel track.
The second is that Nanami and her group act like pros no matter what. They know the quicksand they’ve sunk deep into but they want to make their fans happy no matter what. What’s sad about all this (besides the items Brendan pointed out in Episode 9) is that Azalea’s fans do genuinely love them. They aren’t toxic nor rabid, and there’s an undercurrent of understanding from the writers here that music made in an uncaring money-hungry factory still sells to a mass audience. Said music also doesn’t negate how much the band/singer who performs it cares about music in general. The whole thing gave me Carol and Tuesday vibes.
The final (and best) piece is the tension between Nanami and Eiko in the final few minutes of the episode. The show has made two solid moves thus far that have shored up this showdown. It made me really like Nanami and it has treated all its female characters with respect (aka: No BS fanservice). Watching Nanami internally scream for Eiko to not look at her like this; a factory produced, oversexualized, pantomime of the musician she’s always wanted to be, genuinely made me feel for her. Couple that with the previously absent skeevy ass and crotch shots during her monologue, and I was literally cringing for Nanami as her self-esteem sank into the abyss.
I’m frustrated that the episode cuts out after building such fantastic tension. It frays my nerves to wait to see what happens next because I care a lot about both these parties, but I guess the writers want to make a clean break at “the winner of the Summer Sonia ticket”. I’m interested to see how Azalea responds to being goaded into unmasking themselves. Will they just fall apart or is Kongming giving Nanami a backdoor to exiting out of this dark maze she’s lost herself in?
This episode stretches my belief in Kongming’s prediction abilities a touch too far. Perhaps it’s because we are at the finale, but I wanted a little more struggle on his part. Minus my frustrations, there’s some genuinely moving moments here and I’m eager for the finale. I just hope the writers don’t ditch Nanami as a character after all this.